E-Mail: Diane@artistdiane.com Call: 720-318-6959

About Image


Home / Biography

In 1988 I left the suburbs outside of Kansas City for New York’s Parson’s School of Design, where I learned how to draw.  I earned a BFA in illustration as well as a BA in social psychology from Eugene Lang College/New School for Social Research.  After school I didn’t have the guts to become an illustrator.  Since then, I have lived in many different cities doing many different jobs.  I became passionate about painting in 2008, 20 years later.

My first painting workshop was with Daniel Greene at his home studio in upstate New York.  He was the first to introduce me to the math of mixing. When an artist looks between a blank canvas, a model and her paint box, the answers are endless. Daniel made sense of the chaos. Anyone who has experienced his elaborate palette set up can tell you it is methodical and extensive. At first, I thought the enormous 30” wood palette was a joke and a mistake.  I came to love it and Daniel’s premixing.  An artist becomes intimate with a specific set of colors just by mixing the palette.

For a few years as an adult I was fortunate to live near the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City where I studied paintings of old masters like Titian, Bronzino, Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt.  The museum also has an extensive research library where I spent many hours reading about the Italian Renaissance.  Artwork images may be available online but research articles written by historians and curators found in old books are usually not available unless you hold the book in your hands.

I have also taken painting workshops with Frank Covino, Joshua Fallik and David Kassan and attended great lectures at the first Weekend With The Masters convention in Colorado Springs, CO in 2008(?).  During this trip I fell in love with the thriving art scene Denver had at the time. The Art Student’s League of Denver puts on a great art fair every year. Here I joined a painting group with artists Daniel Sprick, Quang Ho, Mitch Caster and many other fantastic artists.  I did not have a painting background so I soaked up as much as I could by watching the others.

The best painting advice I ever received came from one of my martial arts instructors, Skip Hancock.
Its not what you do in class that’s going to make you great. What you do on your own will make you great.” Skip Hancock, founder of Kenpo 2000, founding member of The Flames performance group, author and friend.

With that idea in mind, I painted 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week in the beginning.  I had no time for friends, family or a love life.  When I wasn’t painting, I had print-outs of my painting within reach to think about the visual problem I was trying to solve.  I learned by painting flower portraits at first.  Then from models which I photographed.  Painting from life is extremely expensive and I couldn’t afford it.  I wish I was brave enough to be a painter when I lived in New York as a student.  There were so many resources available there.  (I became involved with a professional musician and spent too much time in bars, clubs and music studios.)

In 2008, painting became my whole world. I spent countless hours in museums all over the country, studying, analyzing… ‘how did he/she do that…’ The painters who have influenced me the most are Leonardo DaVinci, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Bouguereau and Jacques Louis David; and also Picasso and Van Gogh.  (Some other time we should discuss liking great work from ugly people.  Caravaggio was a murderer and possibly a child molester.  Picasso was a misogynist pig.  I digress…)

There are artists in my family in every generation. Growing up my Grandmother told me that we are descendants of Jacques Louis David.  Several of my relatives have tried to prove it to no avail.  If it is true, my descendant was probably a secret love child.  My family is no stranger to sordid tales and exciting dramas.  One of my Great Grandmothers left Paris in the early 18th century for New Orleans on a long and difficult voyage in the middle of winter, very pregnant. Another ancestor married a New Orleans riverboat gambler.  We tend to find drama in my family as we navigate the exciting side of life.

New Orleans was an important part of my childhood.  I looked forward to our annual visits, leaving the ethnically uniform Kansas suburbs for the diversity of New Orleans.  My aunt Patricia and her jazz musician husbands showed me how to celebrate life and enjoy people of all wonderous varieties.  I moved down to New Orleans as an adult to work at Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop, which was started by my Great-Grandfather 100 years ago.  I loved every minute of it.  Port cities are the best; all those cultural influences!

Serious health issues slowed me down considerably since I became a painter. Nulla Dies Sine Linea, which means, no day without a line drawn, was said by Apelles, favorite painter of Alexander the Great.  That used to be my personal motto.  Once I got sick, I was lucky if I could draw sitting down with a sketchbook on my lap.  I could no longer hold my arm up long enough to paint.

I had debilitating neuropathy and seizures and no one knew why. My sensory nerves were shorting out, like bad electrical wiring. This completely disrupted my life for over 10 years.  I had an active lifestyle before I became ill.  Then everything stopped.  I was in so much pain that driving became dangerous.  I was forced to stop painting, figure drawing, martial arts and even stop working.  Some days I couldn’t walk.  The pain wrapped around me like a heated blanket on high in summer; it was all-consuming.

I used to think things happen for a reason but if you said that to me when I was writhing in pain, cursing God, I would have punched you in the face. Something happens to you when you think you are going to die.  Nothing is the same, everything is more beautiful, every moment is more special, every problem seems small.  Once the crisis is under some sort of control, you ask why.  It nags at you in the back of your mind.  I envy religious people and the comfort they receive from God.  I’m leaning more towards the chaos theory.  This is where my grain of sand landed in the spiral of life.  I don’t know who created the sand or the spiral but whoever it is doesn’t control what happens next.  There is no “why”, its random.  I had lost my sense of purpose.

Now I know that I fractured my cervical vertebrae.  It was just a stupid accident.  There were several defining moments that could have been the culprit; perhaps all of them collectively.  Maybe the fracture started when I was T-boned by a delivery van on my motorcycle in New Orleans.  (A beautiful alizarin crimson Suzuki Savage sportster, 650 cc, single cylinder, named Lulabelle.)  My neck bones may have been weakened by 10 years of martial arts following the motorcycle accident.  I trained with men mostly since women don’t tend to stick around that long.  (American Kenpo, Jiu Jitsu and Jeet Kune Do.)  Well, then there was the mechanical bull.  And the spin bike racing.

I won’t ever know for sure.  What I do know is that the doctors in Denver had an epic fail.  The radiologist at DenverHealth missed it and it appears all subsequent neurologists at DenverHealth and CU Anschutz relied on his misdiagnosis and fuzzy mri.  Thankfully, the team at SutterHealth in Palo Alto, California, captured a fantastic image of my broken and healed cervical vertebrae.

It was just a stupid accident that I created an opportunity for because…why?… I guess I loved the excitement?  I am always ready for an adventure.  I live for exploring and experiencing all that life has to offer.  Now I partake in cultural events on two feet.  (Although I do have a sick electric scooter.  It has a seat for old people and I don’t go over 20mph. haha)

Why do I paint?  It makes me happy.  The way I paint is mostly mental and I love solving these particular problems.  I use math and geometry; phi, grids, % of hue, lightness and saturation as well as perspective lines.  I love the planning as much as the execution. It’s an attempt to control the chaos.  It’s my internal dialog.

How do I choose what to paint? Hmm, I enjoy social commentaries most of all. I like finding those things that connect us as human. Sometimes I may need to work out a specific color’s characteristics so I’ll paint a flower.  Its decorative purpose of matching someone’s couch does not insult me.  I’m very satisfied with my painting bringing someone happiness.

Do I have a purpose? I don’t know.  Do we create our own purpose?  Maybe.  I ask myself why I am able to paint the way I do.  Why do I have this gift; because of my ancestors?  There is no answer.  Do I just do my best in the field I enjoy?  What more can anyone do?  Maybe the question should be, what am I going to do with it?

Painting can become a beautiful obsession if you let it.  One thing that changed in me after my recovery was the value of loved ones.  I loved spending ALL of my time painting but I missed out on family.  My Mom had a tumor in her head and with 5 surgeries so I kept my “illness” as much a secret as I could.  When I started thinking clearly again, I remarried a man with an autistic child and ailing parents and had a taste of how hard it is to work and take care of a family at the same time.  There must be a way to have both.  Many artists find a way to make it work, or so they say.

Right now I am painting in my living room in beautiful northern California.  It’s not the romantic life of an artist that most people imagine.  It’s hard to concentrate with family life vibrating around me butt it’s wonderfully nice to have a partner in life.  This is my current challenge, along with trying to figure out how to update my website (argh!).  And also searching for courage to make a go at this again.  An artist never stops creating art, its just that putting art on display is like putting yourself on display.  Its very personal.  No one likes to be judged.  But I can’t not paint.  It’s who I am.  I hope you, the viewer, enjoy what I have created.  My best piece is always the next one that’s still in my head.  If you would like to see the paintings that are sitting around me, send me an email.  There are usually at least 3 unfinished pieces.  The remainder that I still own are in my stepson’s closet.  If you have a gallery, I am looking for someplace to show my work.

I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and suggestions.  Email me at Diane@artistdiane.com

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucius


Contact Me